The Club for (Iraqi) Growth
Michael Ubaldi, September 22, 2003.
You'll never guess who said this:
Free trade will be a critical element to [our country's] growth.
One of the most overlooked powers of a democratic Iraq - understandable now, given today's security uncertainties - is its cultural allure as a market center and a symbol of the Muslim world's escape from tyranny. Growing into an economic powerhouse in the Near East is easy against the region's dismal record; with increasingly mobile and high-tech international trade, Iraq has an excellent chance of becoming a true diamond in the rough - gaining the benefits of the free-market West without suffering from its geographical position. Their own unemployment rates ranging from an estimated 12% to 25%, Iraq's totalitarian, Islamic neighbors will quickly find their people looking to the spontaneous prosperity of Baghdad, back to the worthless society offered by their governments, and then back to Baghdad. If Damascus, Riyadh, Cairo and other capitals aren't clobbered by revolts for individual rights and wealth opportunities, Iraq's borders could become the Rio Grande Valley of the Near East, as swarms of disgruntled Arabs and Persians stream into the country seeking what Mexicans (among many other extranationals) seek here in the United States every day: a better life. While they're at it, the exiting or rioting masses may wave off for good the old attraction of anti-Western, Islamist hysteria - recognizing it as the horrific excuse for perpetual oppression and hopelessness that it is. By losing many thousands of prospective recruits to decent, honest living, terrorism and dictatorship will be dealt a serious blow, much of it accomplished without the firing of a single American bullet.